About the author
Derek Strahan was born in Penang, Malaysia on May 28th 1935, and spent his early childhood in colonial Malaysia. He was evacuated with his mother and sister to Perth when Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942. In 1946 the Strahans settled in Northern Ireland and Derek completed his schooling in Belfast, obtaining ascholarship to study at Cambridge Univeristy where he graduated in 1954 with a BACantab in modern languages (French and Spanish). He developed an interest in theatre and cinema, and acted in a number of university productions, and also pursued his musical interests: piano, guitar and composing He moved to London where he remained for the next six years working as relief teacher, actor, singer-songwriter and assistant film director making commercials.
In 1961 Strahan returned to Australia and settled in Sydney. He combined composing film music with work as film director, scriptwriter, actor, singer/songwriter and teacher. He worked for 3 years (1964-66) scripting and directing documentary film features for New Zealand television (AKTV2 in Auckland), composing also the music for a 6-part series on Sir Edmund Hilary’s aid work in the Himalayas. The year 1967 was spent in the UK, visiting family and teaching. A period of teaching for the NSW Department of Education in Sydney (1968–70) was combined with writing music for (in all) 16 wild life documentaries produced by Robert Raymond (14), the “Shell’s Australia” series, Densey Clyne (2), “Aliens Among Us”, “Garden Jungle”. In 1984 he scored music for Film Australia’s award-winning series “Artisans of Australia”. During 1969/70 he wrote words & music for a weekly TV spot on the Channel 7 Breakfast Show, providing and performing with guitar (& sometimes harmonica) a topical song every Monday morning before the 7.00am news.
As a writer Strahan worked for 5 years as contract scriptwriter for the TV serial “Number 96” (1970-75). He then also wrote episodes for “Cop Shop”, “Glenview High”, “Chopper Squad”, “Carrots!” (a children’s’ program on Channel 7), and “Flying Start” in 1986 (ABC program on small business). He also scripted corporate videos for Broadcom. Three feature films have been produced from his scripts “Leonora” (1985), released on video, cable in US & Europe, and shown on Channel 9 in 1996; “Fantasy” (1990), released by Columbia Tri-Star on video, and “Inspector Shanahan Mysteries – Cult of Diana”(1992), shown on Channel 9 in 1996. He directed “Leonora” and co-directed “Fantasy” with Geoffrey Brown for Combridge International, and also wrote music for these three features. As an actor, Strahan has appeared in commercials and has played roles in “People In Conflict”, “Homicide”, “Number 96”, “All Saints”, a supporting role in the feature “Leonora” and the lead role in “Inspector Shanahan Mysteries - Cult of Diana”. As lecturer and assessor in scriptwriting, Strahan has previously worked for the Australian Writers Guild and the AFTRS as script assessor, and has given 8 and16 week courses in scriptwriting for the (then) NSW Institute of Technology and for the Australian Film and TV School in Bathurst Street, Sydney (1982 to 84). From mid-2004 and currently he works as a Script Assessor for the Australian Writers’ Guild, and has to date provided over 50 assessments mainly of feature film scripts, and of these around 12 have been face-to-face consultations. He has conducted a 4-day seminar on Writing Film Treatments for Associate AWG members and been a panellist for an Associates Evening on Script Writing.
As a self-taught composer, Strahan has scored music for over thirty films documentaries. From 1980, he increased his output of works for concert performance, and has written over twenty works of concert music encompassing solo, ensemble, vocal and orchestral pieces. Much of his film and concert music has been released on the Australian Jade and Revolve labels, and, since 1982, his concert music has been consistently broadcast on national radio.